Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2016

D-Backs' Miller: Demotion expected to delay free agency

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Justin K. Aller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Arizona Diamondbacks may have inadvertently gained an extra year of club control over one of the worst starting pitchers, statistically, in the National League.

Shelby Miller, who was demoted in mid-July with a 7.14 ERA in 14 starts, will be pitching for Triple-A Reno Thursday, meaning he will fall short of the days needed this season to accrue a year of MLB service time (172 days), regardless of when he is recalled by Arizona. According to Nick Piecoro of azcentral, the most days Miller can tally for the rest of the season would be 38 – bringing him to three years, 171 days of total major-league service time, but one day short of accruing a fourth year.

Therefore, Miller wouldn’t be eligible for free agency for an extra year – after 2019 – which would work in Arizona’s favor should the pitcher regain his All-Star form, though Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said service time wasn’t a factor in keeping Miller at Triple-A.

“I know our conversations have been around the fact that every time he pitches he feels – and (Triple-A manager Phil) Nevin feels – that he is more confident,” La Russa said. “We wanted to make sure he had the best chance to come out of there like King Kong.”

The 25-year-old starter owns a 3.52 ERA in seven starts with Reno, and La Russa said Miller doesn’t want to leave the team in the midst of a postseason chase.

“The reason more than anything else that he’s pitching tomorrow is the one that we respect the most: He’s really bought into what their club is doing,” La Russa said. “Shelby doesn’t want to walk out on them when they’ve got something alive. It’s the kind of character we know he has. That’s a real good example of what he can bring to the Diamondbacks when he gets back here.”

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